the exile. {part i}

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

Whew. Doesn't that feel great to read? Welfare? Hope? A future? Sign me up! Good old Jeremiah 29:11! I have heard this verse quoted so many times. I have seen it on cross stitches and graduation cards. It's so great, let's just keep reading!

"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, declares the Lordand I will restore your fortunes"

Yes! God will hear our prayers? He can be found by us? Did you say fortune? Sounds so good! Let's keep reading!

"...and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile."

If you didn't have some mental breaks screeching there, you may want to re-read that last segment: I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

I've never seen that plastered on a cross stitch or graduation card. You probably haven't, either.

We don't really like the thought of being sent into exile, and it's very, very tempting to go back and just cling to Jeremiah 29:11. Context is kind of mean some times, isn't it?

But friends, it isn't those in the promised land that need Jeremiah 29:11. It's those in exile. That barren, wandering desert isn't exactly Palm Springs.

The message of Jeremiah 29:11 is for those of us in the desert. We aren't here by mistake. We weren't delivered from slavery only to be shoved uselessly into the desert. When you look around what feels like a wasteland of a life, situation, or problem... it isn't hopeless. It's part of The Plan. Even when it feels useless. 

There is a reason behind all this time in sand. 
Like streams in the desert, His mercy will flow.
Like water from the rock, He will impossibly quench our dry hearts.
With mud and saliva, He will open our eyes.

It's not pretty. It's not cross stitch worthy. He doesn't promise either, but he does promise us one thing: and that's redemption. 

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